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Mark Bell’s been a competitive powerlifter since age 12. He’s benched 854 pounds, squatted 1,080, and deadlifted 766. In 2008, Bell appeared in the documentary Bigger, Stronger, Faster (directed by his brother, Chris Bell). His gym, Super Training Gym in Sacramento, CA, has been dubbed “The Strongest Gym in the West.” Bell also invented the Sling Shot, an assistive device for teaching proper bench-press form (check it out at howmuchyabench.net). Here, he shares his advice on building a strong bench press. Follow it, and maybe one day you’ll be strong enough to spot him. Maybe.
Bell performs this once a week, alternating between near-max weight and lighter weight on the bench.
EXERCISE SETS REPS REST
Barbell Bench Press* 3 3 3-4 min.
Barbell Bench Press
with Sling Shot** 3 1 3-4 min.
Close-grip Bench Press
with Sling Shot 4 6-8 3-4 min.
Incline Dumbbell Press 4 10 2 min.
Lat Pulldown 4 10 2 min.
Face Pull 4 10 2 min.
*Bell pauses for a one-count at the bottom and explosively presses up.
**Bell suggests increasing 20–30 pounds per set.
“Get around other people with the same goal. Go to a powerlifting meet and ask the guys how they train and where to find the best gym in your area.”
“It should be sufficient to stimulate a muscle once a week. When you stress body parts too often, joints hurt. Listen to your body.”
“Overloading taps the nervous system and prepares you for heavier weight. Belts, wraps, and the Sling Shot allow you to safely overload.”
“If one of your lifts is stuck, you’re training it too hard or not enough. One at a time, change volume, frequency, or intensity, until it’s working.”
Bell is a BSN-sponsored athlete and the owner of Super Training Gym in Sacramento, CA. An elite powerlifter, he also hosts PowerCast, a podcast available on iTunes. Visit Bell at supertraining.tv.